Monday, May 23, 2011

The Rapture and the Catholic Church

Q - What is said about the rapture in the Catholic faith? I have read part of the Left Behind series and I heard a lot about the group that was thinking the rapture was supposed to happen this weekend - so I wanted to know how much it is like Catholic beliefs.

A - Thanks for the question. I know that this can be quite a confusing issue for many Catholics. The Catholic Church does not believe in the rapture theory.

Let us look for a bit at the rapture and where it came from. It started in a dispensationalist movement within Protestantism. Dispensationalism was created in the late 1800s and popularized in the early 1900s by the Scofield Reference Bible. It divides the times through the Bible, into the present, and the future as periods of history (called dispensations) where God has a different kind of relationship with His people in each period. Thus, it has a heavy emphasis on trying to study what will happen in the future.

A dispensationalist view of Scripture is literal, as in word-for-word. The current dispensation started at Pentecost and will continue until the rapture, where Jesus will come secretly and take up all the "saved" into heaven with Him.

After the Rapture, all those left on the earth will face a time of tribulation and then a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth in Jerusalem. This comes from a certain reading of the book of Revelation. This literal reading makes for a kind of third coming, because Jesus comes for a second time in the rapture then again to set up his earthly kingdom.

The Catholic Church teaches that Christ came first 2,000 years ago and will come only once at the end of the world to conquer evil and end time on earth as we know it. There is no rapture. This theory was started by a Scottish visionary and has no basis in Scripture or Tradition.

When will this happen? Nobody knows and if they think they do they are fooling themselves:
**“But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day” (3:8).

**“You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” (Lk 12:20)

Here is what the Catechism says:

674 The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus.St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old."St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?"The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles",will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all".

And more:

675 Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
676 The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.
677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.


678 Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced the judgment of the Last Day in his preaching.Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light.Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God's grace as nothing be condemned.Our attitude to our neighbor will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love.On the Last Day Jesus will say: "Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."

Concerning times and seasons, brothers, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night. - 1Thes 5:1-2
I think that says it all.
For more on this I recommend the following books:
Will Catholics be Left Behind? - Carl Olson
The Rapture Trap - Paul Thigpen


Art Historian said...

Below is 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 in both the King James Version (KJV) and The New American Bible (NAB). They are virtually the same in wording and are the scriptures in the Bible that explain the "Rapture" or "Rapiemur" in the Latin Vulgate. The word rapture stems from the Latin word rapiemur:

1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 King James Version (KJV)

14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 New American Bible (NAB)

14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15. Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, [3] will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16. For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together [4] with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18. Therefore, console one another with these words.

3 [15] Coming of the Lord: Paul here assumes that the second coming, or parousia, will occur within his own lifetime but insists that the time or season is unknown (1 Thes 5:1-2). Nevertheless, the most important aspect of the parousia for him was the fulfillment of union with Christ. His pastoral exhortation focuses first on hope for the departed faithful, then (1 Thes 5:1-3) on the need of preparedness for those who have to achieve their goal.

4 [17] Will be caught up together: literally, snatched up, carried off; cf 2 Cor 12:2; Rev 12:5. From the Latin verb here used, rapiemur, has come the idea of "the rapture," when believers will be transported away from the woes of the world; this construction combines this verse with Matthew 24:40-41 (see the note there) // Luke 17:34-35 and passages from Revelation in a scheme of millennial dispensationalism.

Lee Lenstanik said...

The reference to those who have fallen asleep is to those who died, having lived a good and holy life, prior the act of redemption for the souls of man which is acknowledged by faith. Yes, there will be a second coming of the Lord. No, there is absolutely nothing in the Bible which states that Christ will come a third time. Hence, the new "rapture" theory is out the window. The "rapture" is not alluded to in any of Jesus' discourses in the Bible, in particularly it is not mentioned in Revelation as so many erroneously claim.

Sister Lynn said...

I do not believe in the rapture but to make of the Gospel of Matthew 24:36-42?
"one will be taken up and the other left?"

It seems like their theory is loosely based on Scripture? No?

Marcel said...

Sr. Lynn - While it is based on Scripture, it is based on faulty interpretations of Scripture.

The passage you refer to is a promise that God will draw the saved into heaven. In context, Jesus compares the end times to Noah's times, where Noah and his family were saved and all others were left to face the consequences of their actions. So it will be at the end of the world.